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Augury - "Fragmentary Evidence" (CD)

Augury - "Fragmentary Evidence" CD cover image

"Fragmentary Evidence" track listing:

1. Aetheral (4:18)
2. Simian Cattle (5:38)
3. Orphans of Living (5:10)
4. Jupiter to Ignite (8:24)
5. Sovereigns Unknown (5:13)
6. Skyless (6:30)
7. Faith Puppeteers (4:07)
8. Brimstone Landscapes (4:30)
9. Oversee the Rebirth (11:12)

Reviewed by on August 29, 2009

"'Fragmentary Evidence' has got the brutality to draw in the death metal crowd and the progressive and technical aspects to attract people interested in more avant-garde music."

Augury is a band that knows how to expertly combine its lyrics, sound, and artistic expression. The cover image seems to be a direct depiction of the opening segment of the first track “Aetheral.” There is a sound that can only be described as the sky breaking open as some sort of convergence of ethereal energy is let loose in a ritual of forbidden knowledge. The vocalist lets out the first deep death growls of the album, screaming “Reality was stirred / Like a fog inhaled at the fringe of the eyesight / Coalescent just long enough for the rapture.” As the lyrics would suggest, the sound effects stick around just long enough to get the listener’s complete attention, and then dissipate. Replacing the effects is a barrage of blistering guitar and drum work that would be expected from a technical death metal album.

While the instruments are played superbly throughout the album, the bass remains the undeniable star of the show. There are bass solos galore, and the bass frequently leads the music instead of maintaining the rhythm. Fans of bands like Obscura or The Faceless will be right at home with the sound, except that they can expect an even greater emphasis on bass playing than either of those bands have. The fat bass lines play a nice counterpoint to the brutal death metal, giving the album a well-rounded feel.

“Fragmentary Evidence” is filled with small nuances behind the wall of death sound that gives the listener a reason to return to the album more than once. There is a downside to that level of complexity, however. Listening to the album is more of an active and involved activity rather than a passive one. Anyone who wants to get the most out of the disc should expect to put some time and effort into it.

There are numerous breaks from the pounding death metal so that the band can take a trip into an esoteric or thoughtful passage. “Simian Cattle” has one such moment, which starts with the band’s trademark bass sound. Before long the distorted guitars and repeating bass lines morph into a serious head trip of a segment that gives the impression of floating out in space. The sounds of the instruments are mixed in such a way that they feel like they are actively moving away from the listener, which is a disorienting, but extremely interesting, effect.

Augury recruited a stunning array of seven different guest vocalists to lend their talent to the album. Sven de Caluwé from Aborted, Syriak and Leilindel from Unexpect, Sébastien Croteau from Necrotic Mutation, Eric Fiset from Obscene Crisis, Youri Raymond from Cryptopsy, and Filip Ivanovic from Agony all place their mark on the disc at various points. The shifting vocal style creates an eclectic feel, but the overall sound is held tightly together by the guitar and bass playing. The only downside to the extra vocalists occurs when a segment pops out of nowhere that includes clean female singing, and then abruptly ends. The performance is top notch, which unfortunately leads to thoughts of how the album could have been better with female vocals sprinkled throughout instead of only being utilized once.

“Fragmentary Evidence” has got the brutality to draw in the death metal crowd and the progressive and technical aspects to attract people interested in more avant-garde music. It may not perfectly please both groups at all times, but it comes close enough that the album should become a metal fan favorite before too long.

Highs: Great bass solos, heavy sound, lots of breaks to go into esoteric territory.

Lows: Listening to the album is an active exercise that requires a good deal of work, the small teasing segment of female vocals leaves you wanting more.

Bottom line: Superb technical death metal with plenty of progressive elements and a huge range of vocal styles.

Rated 4 out of 5 skulls
4 out of 5 skulls

Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)